Thursday, June 28, 2007

GM Car of the Future (1962)


The advertisement below ran in the Official Souvenir Program for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. The ad proclaims that General Motors is, "setting a course for the future" by showcasing the "fully functional Firebird III space-age car." The full text of the ad is transcribed below.



Mobility - the easiest, fastest, surest kind possible - turns your world of tomorrow into an accessible and amicable place. The fret is removed from traffic and it is fun, not frustrating, to take short jaunts on vehicles which float along on a pad of air or to Sunday-drive down automatic highways.

The General Motors Corporation exhibit in the Coliseum presents a preview of the fascinating changes coming in the automobile industry. You see now the full-size, experimental Firebird III. This pace-setter for the car of the future, proven in road tests, is thrust with a turbine engine. Its simple control stick accelerates, brakes and turns. Push the control forward and the Firebird III moves ahead; swing it left or right and the wheels turn; pull back and it brakes. The electronic guide system can rush it over an automatic highway while the driver relaxes.

Although the Firebird II stands as the center attraction in the exhibit, you see other displays of the future. There is a model of the automatic highway, prototype of a stretch of experimental roadway which was built in New Jersey to demonstrate how electronics can steer cars and even stop them. This quarter-mile stretch of road has been received enthusiastically by officials, who predict that electronic mechanisms in the future can eliminate routine driving chores and make long distance highway travel safer and easier.

The General Motors exhibit includes solar energy demonstrations and you may test your skill with sun-powered guns which activate parts of the display. Yet another exhibit reveals the principles of ground effect machinery, where objects are moved along a flat surface on a cushion of air. In the next century, more people will be going more places in fascinating new vehicles . . . and they'll go safely.

See also:
Magic Highway, U.S.A. (1958)
Seattle World's Fair Official Souvenir Program (1962)
Century 21: Space Needle Designs (1962)
The Future World of Transportation

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

To heck with flying cards, I want the gorgeous joystick-controlled, highway-following Firebird III!

Jim said...

I'd sure hate to have to parallel park that!

christo said...

The Firebird III was actually developed in 1958 and debuted in early 1959. General Motors would trot dream cars such as this one out on to the Auto Show circuit as a promotional tool. It still exists and is still functional. We have it in our collection at the GM Heritage Center along with the Firebird I and II. The lines of this vehicle are magnificent and no picture I have ever seen really does it justice.